What is Internet Addiction?
Internet addiction disorder (IAD) is a type of behavioural addiction that involves compulsive internet use. People with internet addiction may have underlying mental health or substance use issues that may require specialised addiction treatment. Internet addiction is a problem in Australia, as it is currently recorded that 13.4 million Australians now spend 18.8 hours a day online. While only a small number of internet users in Australia have an internet addiction, there is an alarming increase in the number of people that do have this problem. Internet use has become what some might call a necessity in daily life. For some people, however, internet use – including social media and online gaming – can become a compulsive and even addictive habit.
Types of Internet Addiction can include:
- Online gambling addiction
- Cybersex addiction
- Video game addiction
- Social media addiction
Regular use of the internet is common and even necessary for many occupants and academic pursuits. In addition, the internet is also used to form or maintain social connections. When a person feels unable to control their internet use, however, and continues to do so despite negative effects on their life, this may be a sign of a problem.
Signs of Internet Addiction Disorder
Using the internet very often, or enjoying being online, are not signs of an addiction by themselves. An addiction is generally characterised by repetitive behaviours that interfere with a person’s daily life, and that the person feels unable to control. If you’re concerned about your internet use, or that of someone else, there are several common signs and behaviours that have identified among people with internet addiction.
Signs and symptoms of internet addiction might include:
- Excessive internet use (i.e., spending the majority of time online)
- Staying online for longer than intended
- Lying about the extent of one’s internet use
- Unsuccessful attempts to limit internet use
- Neglecting relationships with others due to internet use
- Experiencing disruptions in work or academic pursuits as a result of internet use
- Experiencing guilt, shame or frustration about one’s internet use
- Continuing to spend the majority of time online despite negative effects on physical or mental health
Psychological withdrawal symptoms have also been reported by people with compulsive internet use. For example, feeling very on-edge, hostile, or anxious when unable to access a computer.
Additionally, some consequences of an internet addiction can include:
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Neglect of personal hygiene
- Poor eating habits
- Vision problems
Causes and Risk Factors for Internet Addiction
Increased use of mobile technologies and the internet for everyday activities is not by itself a cause for internet addiction. Although it’s currently believed that internet addiction could be influenced by genetic, biological, and interpersonal factors.
Possible Causes for internet addiction:
- Abnormalities in neurochemical processes
- History of mental illness or a personality disorder
- Personal or family history of addiction
- Internet access and availability
- Young age (e.g., children, teenagers, young adults)
It’s suggested that people who experience difficulties in their offline lives may turn to escape or avoid reality. Therefore, people who have stressful lives, or are unhappy with their lives, may be more likely to turn to the internet to cope.
Internet Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders
It’s not uncommon for a person who compulsively uses the internet to also have another type of mental health disorder.
Co-occurring disorders might include:
- Alcohol use disorder
- Drug abuse and addiction
- Anxiety disorders
- Major depression
- Technological addictions (e.g., addiction to smartphones or television)
- Porn addiction
Most people who hear the term ‘addiction’ typically think of drug or alcohol addiction. Although, substance abuse and behavioural addictions can be connected. Alcohol use disorder, in particular, is believed to be associated with compulsive internet use, particularly among university aged students. Drugs, alcohol, and the internet can for some share a similar function: to numb, escape, or manage feelings or realities they’d prefer to avoid.
Treatment for Internet Addiction
Seeking treatment for internet addiction may be necessary for people who feel unable to reduce their internet use on their own. The types of treatments recommended for internet addiction can vary according to a person’s medical/mental health history and other personal factors. come see us at Alegna Solutions Psychology Practice, we can provide you with a detailed assessment and recovery plan, we will walk with you step by step as you head down a path of recovery. Don’t let the internet be in control of your life. Talk to us at your earliest convenience, get on top of what’s getting you down.